Alan McLoughlin played 'only' 24 times, momentous ones all of them, for Torquay United, but his untimely death at the age of 54 this week will have saddened many older Gulls fans who watched him at the start of a distinguished career.
McLoughlin was just 20 when he joined a Torquay team in the depths of a desperate fight to stay in the Football League in March 1987.
He came on loan from Swindon Town, immediately stamped himself as a wholehearted box-to-box midfielder and threw himself into the battle to avoid relegation.
He scored what turned out to be a vital goal in a 1-1 derby draw with Exeter City at Plainmoor, and played every minute of the now-famous 2-2 home draw with Crewe Alexandra which kept United up on the last day.
Manchester-born McLoughlin, as popular in the dressing-room as he was with supporters, extended his loan at the start of the following season, playing another eight games, before Swindon recalled him, put him straight into their first team and he set off on an honour-laden career.
McLoughlin went on to play nearly 550 games for Swindon, Southampton, Portsmouth for eight years, Wigan and Rochdale, scoring 84 goals along the way.
He also won 42 caps for Eire, helping them to the World Cup Finals under Jack Charlton.
McLoughlin coached for many years at Portsmouth and then as head of Swindon's Academy before cancer struck him down.
He faced it with all the determination he displayed as a player, sharing his progress and setbacks with a wider audience as a way of encouraging others in a similar situation.
He will be much missed by everyone who knew him.
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